TL: sleepy Pop
When Ryoma returned from the bathroom, he was met with a rather chaotic scene.
“Huh? I wonder what’s so different about this one! You have men’s luggage!”(Ami)
“Himeno-chan, let’s do it! A date! A date!”(Fuko)
Two girls were surrounding Himeno, the client. They seemed to be having a lot of fun messing around with her and seemed to be so close that it was easy to guess that they were friends.
This was a development I hadn’t expected.
Himeno’s friend seems to have a cheerful personality. If I get back to my seat, I’m sure I’ll get bombarded with a lot of questions. Ryoma wanted to hide until he was out of trouble, but staying in a bathroom for too long wouldn’t make the finest impression. With that said, Ryoma had no other option but to greet Himeno’s two friends.
Just as Ryoma was gathering his courage to walk forward.
By accident, their gazes connected, and Himeno froze, her eyes wide and stiffened. Ryoma, on the other hand, waved his hands from side to side.
If I responded in such a blatant manner, my friends would know at once that my date was back.
“Eh !? That’s Himeno’s date partner !? How is that normal !?”(Ami)
“He’s handsome. A genuine hottie, yeah.”(Fuko)
Ryoma couldn’t hear what they’re saying because of the volume of their voices and the distance between them. When he got close enough to have a conversation with her, Ryoma hesitantly introduced himself.
“Hello, nice to meet you. My name is Ryoma. Are you two Himeno’s friends?”(Ryoma)
“Nice to meet you! I’m Ami. Actually, the three of us go to the same university!”(Ami)
“I’m Fuuko! I’m asking you right away, but are you on a date with Himenocchi !?”(Fuko)
Fuko approached without a moment’s hesitation and gazed at Ryoma with intense interest.
…How can you be so aggressive with someone you’ve never met before.
Ryoma was frightened by Fuko’s sudden prying. He bit his lip hard and calmly envisions a plan to stand his ground. The situation was getting to the point where he couldn’t be revealed as a fake lover any longer.
If Ryoma felt scared, he may make Himeno nervous. It would also make him feel untrustworthy. In other words, it would reduce the agency’s level of satisfaction and eliminate the possibility of her being a return customer. This is where you have to be really good at getting through.
” Ah, so you kept today a secret, Himeno. I totally thought you told her.”(Fuko)
“So it’s a date!?”(Ami)
“Oh, Ami, ……, you’re noisy.”(Himeno)
“Oh, my God, Himeno looks so embarrassed and cute!”(Ami)
Ami and Fuko will pummel her with teasing blows if Himeno says anything, causing Himeno to blush and shut up… It’s an instant KO, I guess.
It was a cute, girlish response, but it wasn’t the most dependable in this situation. Ryoma would have to get through this alone. Just like in the exam, Ryoma’s mind was running at full speed as he tried to string his words together.
“Oh no, I can’t believe Himeno’s friend saw me here…….Do me a favour and don’t tell anyone about this, okay?”(Ryoma)
By taking into consideration the feelings of Himeno, who had closed her mouth while looking down, Ryoma placed his finger close to his mouth and made a gesture.
In all honestly, I didn’t want to be caught out on a date either.
If we were true lovers, there would be no problem with people talking about us, but this was a date where money was involved. So It would be detrimental to both Himeno and me if Ami and Fukio were to spread this around.
“Of course! But ……, I see… Hime. The reason you said you didn’t need a boyfriend was that you had one, right? It all makes sense now.”(Ami)
“Ugh, ……, shut up.”(Himeno)
Ami is grinning and messing with Himeno as though the dots have been connected. It was easy to tell that Ami was enjoying herself immensely as she went on and on teasing Himeno.
In response to what Himeno said, Ami teased her even more, but it was unavoidable to avoid having her secret found out.
Ryoma breathed a sigh of relief that he managed to conceal it for the time being, but it was too early to tell, for there was another ambush lurking in the form of Fuko.
“Um, Ryoma-san! Where did you meet Himenocchi ? That’s what I’ve been wondering!”(Fuko)
“Eh !? Where did we meet …?”(Himeno)
Ryoma found the questions somewhat troubling. He was unconsciously being attacked, but he manages to find a way to avoid answering the questions.
“I’d really like to tell you, but Himeno and I are keeping it a secret.”(Ryoma)
Ryoma had reservations about keeping it a secret, but he wasn’t dexterous enough to come up with a meeting location without feeling awkward. The fact that they hadn’t yet met made him more inclined to dig a grave if he lied about it. In this situation, closing the information was the correct decision.
“It’s a secret ……. Well, then then it can’t be helped……! Oh, excuse me! One more thing for Ryoma-san!”(Fuko)
“Honestly, you’re my type!”(Fuko)
“Huh !? Eh …? Oh, I …?”(Ryoma)
“……Haha, thanks for that.”(Ryoma)
Perhaps hoping to stir up Himeno’s jealousy, Fuko turned her smiling face to Ryoma. Even though Himeno knew it was a joke, this kind of attack made her nervous.
“There are good jokes and bad jokes,” she said. “You don’t have to take me seriously, Ryoma-san. I have a boyfriend too.”(Fuko)
“Right now,…How about two-timing!?”(Fuko)
“Don’t be silly, …….Please say something, Ryoma-san.”(Ami)
Ami was there to cushion Ryoma and assist him out, so the balance was perfect. Ryoma was thankful for Ami’s response.
“Well, this is going to be a boring reply, but I have Himeno, so I’m sorry ……?”(Ryoma)
“So that means that Ryoma-san likes Himeno-chan, right?!”(Ami)
“Of course, I’m in a relationship with Himeno, after all.”(Ryoma)
“Then Himenochi is…….”(Ami)
“Uh-huh. I…..love you.”(Himeno)
This was a line I would never have said if I hadn’t met Himeno’s friend.
Ryoma bit his lips as he wasn’t prepared for Fuko’s onslaught of questions, but Himeno is so upset that she overrides that impression. The fact that they are dating becomes more credible as a result of this reaction.
“I’m so happy for you, Himeno. Thanks to you. I was able to hear your feelings.”(Ami)
“Hey! I love Himeno-chan!”(Fuko)
Himeno, who has skin as white as snow, shakes her delicate body as her cheeks turn bright red. Ryoma was infected by such blatant embarrassment.
“Oh, God. If you’ve come to buy tapioca, just go. Just go home!”(Himeno)
This is the effect of excessive teasing. Himeno expressed her feelings, revealing her embarrassment. I’m not sure what they expected, but Ami and Fuko kept blinking as Himeno responded violently.
“Yeah, that’s true too ……. I’ve already interrupted your date for too long. …… Fuko, we should leave now. If you have a boyfriend, you know how I feel.”(Ami)
“Then go quickly. Go home.”(Himeno)
“I’m going~, just tell me how today’s date went. I’m looking forward to it, Himeno-chan!”(Fuko)
“Look, Fuko is persistent. I’ll be quick.”(Ami)
“Thank you for being so thoughtful, Ami and Fuko. See you later.”(Ryoma)
“Yes! Excuse me!”(Ami)
Himeno’s words became the decisive factor, so Ami and Fuko went to stand in line at the tapioca shop.
Looking at the flow of events, they must have found Himeno when they came to buy tapioca. I can only say it was bad luck.
“Well, you’ve been a very peculiar friend. I feel like I have a lot of power, and I think I’m going to have a very fun college life.”(Fuko)
“I’m sorry ……. I didn’t think you’d meet Himeno…….”(Ami)
“I can’t help it now that we’ve met Himeno. I guess this tapioca shop is so popular that even your friends visit it.”(Fuko)
“Ami and Fuko came here the second time”(Himeno)
“They’re here for more tapioca.”(Himeno)
Even Ryoma, who eats more than most people, refuses to drink another cup of tapioca. Tapioca is a drink that will fill you up. (It makes you feel full relatively quickly.)
“Shiba-san, aren’t you angry ……? I caused you a lot of trouble…….”(Himeno)
Himeno felt responsible for the events that just transpired, feeling guilty for the whole situation. But she couldn’t say that this was anyone’s fault.
“Don’t worry. I’m not mad at you. On the contrary, Himeno is not angry with me…….?”(Ryoma)
“Why would I be angry?”(Himeno)
“I’m sorry to say this, but I misled your friends into thinking we were lovers……. I couldn’t afford it, so I misrepresented it that way, but now that I think about it, I think it would have worked just as well If I told them that we were good friends.”(Ryoma)
“There was nothing wrong with your response. I’m so happy that you wanted to protect me…Shiba-san.”(Ryoma)
Ryoma felt that he had made a mistake, but he visited this large commercial facility with his ‘girlfriend’ this time.
If I had answered, “We’re friends,” my lover’s body would have been destroyed in an instant. Although there were some difficulties, Himeno was not dissatisfied with my response. In fact, she was more than satisfied.
“Shiba, we have to go. Ami and Fuko are coming back soon, …especially Fuko.”(Himeno)
Ami and Fusako are currently standing in line at the tapioca shop, getting closer and closer to the order counter. If she(Fuko) finished buying the tapioca, Himeno would probably expect Fuko to start messing with her again.
Himeno talks harshly of Ami and Fuko to keep them in check, but Ryoma, standing next to Himeno, didn’t even feel the “ko” of dread. It appeared adorable, and it was spoken in a whisper that the target person couldn’t possibly hear. Ryoma walked quickly with a Japanese chestnut smoothie in his hand, following Himeno’s directions with these parting remarks.
“Shiba, hold my hand…….”(Himeno)
The moment when Himeno cut her gaze from Ami and Fuko, she whispered to Ryoma, slowly extending her hand to him.
Himeno moved as if she had been looking for this opportunity as if she had a plan in her brain to make it happen.
“Ah, uh, I don’t hate holding hands at all, but now it’s dangerous because my hands are occupied. You see, we both have tapioca, and if Himeno gets hurt and injured, I can’t take responsibility.”(Ryoma)
If we hold hands, there will be no free hands to move each other. You will not be able to cope with the situation if anything happens. Ryoma warns Himeno about the danger, but she replies with words that are typical of Himeno.
“I won’t fall. So try not to fall, Shiba-san.”( Himeno)
“Yeah, I’m not sure I can do it with just that level of awareness.”(Ryoma)
“No, I’m fine. So let’s join our hands……?”(Himeno)
“All right. I’ll trust you, okay?”(Ryoma)
When he heard her reply, Ryoma stuck out his pinky finger as he had done the first time, but Himeno shook her thin head from side to side.
“Shiba, no. Now we’re going to connect our hands partially.”(Himeno)
“Oh, is that a normal grip?”(Ryoma)
Himeno asks for the standard way of intertwining the little fingers this time. She holds her small hand in a pear shape and brings her slender hand even closer. It’s so cute how she asks for it in such an obvious way.
“I’ll hold it then, okay?”(Ryoma)
Ryoma opened his hand as requested and gently grasped the hand that she offered to him. Perhaps it was because their hands were so different in size, but even without conscious thought, they connected in a way that seemed to wrap around each other. The tiny, child-like hands felt like glutinous marshmallows.
“I’ve always wondered why Himeno’s hands are so small.”(Ryoma)
“No, Shiba’s hands are just too big. …… Like a monster.”(Himeno0
“What?! If you say it like that, then even Himeno’s small hand is a monster.”(Ryoma)
“That’s not true.”(Himeno)
“It’s true. I can even do it like this.”(Ryoma)
Ryoma wrapped hands tightly around Himeno’s. In response, she leaked out a strange voice. Since his friend’s exposure, Ryoma, who had been through the most challenging crisis, had been blown off his nerves and everything else, which is why he is so at ease right now.
“Shiba, you can’t squish my hands……. I, can’t talk. ……”(Himeno)
“Are you nervous?”(Ryoma)
“…..Normal people get nervous.”(Himeno)
“What are you talking about, like I’m not normal? ……. If you’re going to be so mean to me, I might as well keep you connected to me.”(Ryoma)
“There it is.”(Ryoma)
Ryoma faithfully follows orders. He quickly relaxes and changes his grip as if to put an end to the cruelty. To be honest, Ryoma isn’t used to anything like this. He’s just glad to have gotten over the earlier incident without any problems.
“Okay, so where do we go next?”(Ryoma)
What came back was unexpected silence.
“Shiba-san, I could really use a good squeeze.”(Himeno)
I take it you’re using ‘that’ as an excuse not to say anything.
“You don’t know where we’re going next, do you?”(Ryoma)
“Hmm, I forgot all the plans I had in mind for ……. Because of what happened earlier……”(Himeno)
“Oh, I see. Well then, why don’t we just wander around and take a peek at any stores that catch our attention? There are so many stores. At the very least, we should be able to discover three. “(Ryoma)
Himeno shook her head while slowly stringing her words together.
“Himeno, am I bothering you again.”(Ryoma)
“You’re not bothering me, Shiba-san, and hanging out is part of the fun of dating, so don’t worry about it.”(Himeno)
“Take it easy”(Himeno)
“Yeah. It’s nice that you care about me, but I’m really enjoying my date with Himeno, you know? (Ryoma)
“Are we just going to wander around?”(Himeno)
“I know this sounds like a horrible question to ask, but Himeno, are you having fun on this date? (Ryoma)
If he were to be affirmed here, it would open the gates of hell, but he could predict that this would not happen from the way Himeno was acting.
“I’m sorry I made you say that, but…… you see, I think it’s great this way since we both love it. We should appreciate our method of dating, don’t you think? That is what is best for both of us.”(Ryoma)
“Okay, ……. Thank you, Shiba.”(Himeno)
“You as well. Thanks for the fun date, even though it’s not over yet.”(Ryoma) The atmosphere around the both of us felt sweet as we showered each other with compliments.
“I’m glad Shiba-san is my boyfriend.”(Himeno)
“What?! I’m delighted to hear you say that.”(Ryoma)
In the midst of that reply, Himeno, who said ‘no squeezing’, launched that attack towards Ryoma, squeezing his hand tightly.
Ryoma, who had not anticipated this type of attack, let out a cough in response to Himeno’s actions.
“Today was my first date, so I was really worried. But Shiba’s kindness put me at ease.”(Himeno)
“I was worried about the same thing. And many people are kinder than me…”(Ryoma).
However, there was one thing that stuck out to me.
“Hi, Himeno ……? Did you just say that this was your first date?”(Ryoma)
“Hmm,…yes. For the first time in my life.”(Himeno)
“That’s a lie, isn’t it?”(Ryoma)
“Is it really true?”(Ryoma)
“I felt too embarrassed to tell you…….”(Himeno)
Even without her bold personality, Himeno’s cute looks would have drawn men to her. It was difficult to imagine that Himeno had never gone on a date before.
“That means I have a lot of responsibility now, don’t I? At any rate, I’ll make sure you’re satisfied!”(Ryoma)
“I feel satisfied enough.”(Himeno)
“Well, then I’ll do my best to make you more satisfied. Himeno, is there anything you want me to do?”(Ryoma)
“Oh! What’s that? Anything I can do to help, I’ll do it.”(Ryoma)
“Hold my hand all the way until I let go of my hand ……”(Himeno)
Himeno squeezed my hands again, only this time, it was faint, and strong intent could be felt from Himeno as if she was demanding something.
“Yes, that much, of course. Is there anything else?”(Ryoma)
“Hmm, we’re good for now.”(Himeno)
“If you find anything you want me to do, don’t hesitate to let me know. I want to make sure nothing is left undone.”(Ryoma)
From that point on, we kept our hands together and wandered around indoors, letting the waves of people carry us. We were chatting happily, similar to the other couples who we passed by.
She suddenly stopped and looked at a store. When Ryoma looked over at her, he saw an old-fashioned candy store standing tall and mighty. The shop is roughly the size of four tatami mats, and you can see products being sold on hooks hanging from the ceiling and boxes and bottles filled with products and sweets. There were around three customers with their parents and children in the store.
“Are you curious about the candy store?”(Ryoma)
“Hmm, it looks like they have some sweet stuff ……. Shiba, can I have a look?”(Himeno)
“Sure. Let’s take our time.”(Ryoma)
“You don’t have to thank me for that. Honestly, I was wondering the same thing, so let’s get going.”(Ryoma)
Himeno lifted her end of the phrase, but it may have been unintentional. Her face remains unchanged, but there was a glitter in her eyes as if she had just laid eyes on her favourite ‘food’.
After stopping by a candy store, they proceeded to a bookstore, a pet store, and a general store.
Time flew past in an instant. It was now 6:55
“Shiba-san, I had a good time today.”(Himeno)
There were less than five minutes left until the end of the appointment. The sun had already set, and the upper quarter of the moon was rising along with the stars.
Here we are in front of the fountain in East Park, our first meeting place. Himeno and Ryoma were seated on a bench, holding hands in the chilly weather, spending their final moments together.
“Did you have a good time, Shiba?”(Himeno)
“Of course. I’m thrilled that Himeno was my client.”(Ryoma)
This conversation made the both of them feel that their farewell was just around the corner. Because the agency’s regulations prohibit exchanging contact information, the atmosphere is inevitably like this.
“Oh, we have a little more time. Himeno, do you have any last-minute things you want to do?”(Ryoma)
“There is one thing. I want to take a picture with Shiba-san.”(Himeno)
“Oh, great! Then let’s take pictures with your phone, Himeno. If we take pictures with my phone, we’ll have all kinds of problems.”(Ryoma)
“The rules of the agency are somewhat confusing.”(Himeno)
“Haha, …… can’t blame you for this one. I’ll have fun taking pictures for you.”(Ryoma)
The clock was ticking. Himeno quickly took out her phone with the cactus silicon cover from her shoulder bag.
“Can I use snow to take the picture?”(Himeno)
“I’ll leave everything to Himeno.”(Ryoma)
Snow is a unique software that lets you snap photographs while they are being processed. It is a popular app among young people that allows you to become the face of an animal or figure by using a system of facial recognition stamps.
“I’m using a cat as my stamp.”(Himeno)
“Do you like cats?”(Ryoma)
“I like kinds of animals, snake and lizards alike.”(Himeno) said Himeno, moving her mouth and stretching her arms diagonally upward. As soon as the inner camera authenticated their faces, they had cat ears, an inverted triangular cat nose, and three whiskers on each side of their cheeks, moving smoothly like in a movie.
“Shouldn’t we get a little closer……?”(Ryoma)
Ryoma lifted their hands together in the air a little and shifted closer to Himeno, closing the distance so that their shoulders were touching.
“I’ll take the shot.”(Himeno)
“…….Three, two, one.”(Himeno)
At the end of the countdown, I hit the shutter button with my thumb, which causes the internal camera screen to stop and the image I shot to fill my phone screen. We quickly meet face to face and begin to check each other out in a pleasant manner.
“Oh! That’s a good shot.”(Ryoma)
“Hmm, Shiba-san looks cute in this photo.”(Himeno)
“Himeno looks cute as well.”(Ryoma)
“……, Don’t say that I’m cute, Shiba…It’s embarrassing.”(Himeno)
“Haha……now I’m starting to get a little embarrassed as well.”(Ryoma)
“Pull yourself together.”(Himeno)
We continued talking, making eye contact at a close range when we snapped that photo. To those around us, we would be completely misunderstood as a couple. Over the course of the day, we’ve grown to know one other rather well.
“I will cherish this photo.”(Himeno)
“I’m glad you did.”(Ryoma)
“Let me know if you want to see the pictures. I’ll show you whenever you want.”(Himeno)
“Haha, thanks for the offer.”(Ryoma)
“So, when is the next time your free Shiba-san……?”(Himeno)
“When you mean free, do you mean when is the next time I’m available?”(Ryoma)
Because today was the first time he was acting on behalf of the company, Ryoma hadn’t noticed anything at this stage. As soon as Himeno asked for his next appointment, he knew that there was a good chance that she would become a repeat customer.
“Well, except Thursdays and Saturdays, I guess. That’s if I don’t have anything else to do.”(Ryoma)
“Well, today is a Saturday, right?”(Himeno)
“Saturdays are supposed to be free in the afternoon once every two weeks, and today was that day.”(Ryoma)
Not only does Ryoma works as an agent, but he also works at a bookstore. His two shifts are on Thursdays and Saturdays.
“Got it. Thurs and Sat…….”(Himeno)
Himeno recited in a small voice while typing the information in her cactus covered phone, which she was holding.
“Um, ……, what are you doing?”(Ryoma)
“I’m taking notes for the days when you’re free.”(Himeno)
“I want to go on another date with you, Shiba-san.”(Himeno)
“Really?! Thank you for that, thank you so much!”(Ryoma)
It turns out that’s why Himeno inquired when I’d be free. It was also the point at which our lives intertwined. And I can’t even begin to explain how happy I am to have a returning client.
Such joy was short-lived. However, as my wristwatch read 7:00. It was the conclusion of the appointment with the lover’s agency.
Himeno was probably checking the time on her phone as well. Ryoma shifted his gaze to his watch and took a deep breath.
Our contract has come to an end, so does our relationship as fake lovers.
“So, Himeno-san, it’s 7:00, and I’d like to receive my payment, thank you.”(Ryoma)
Himeno’s reaction to those words was swift.
She immediately opened her long black enamel purse with a high brand logo and handed me a 10,000 yen bill held in her tiny hands.
“Thank you very much. We have worked on your behalf for three hours. Therefore your change will be four thousand yen.”(Ryoma)
“No. I want you to have everything, keep it as an expression of my thanks for being such a wonderful boyfriend on my first date.”(Himeno)
“Eh?! All of it!?”(Ryoma)
“Yup! This is for you, Shiba-san, so please keep it.”(Himeno)
Ryoma appeared visibly confused throughout the entire conversation. But of course, he was confused, as the appointment only lasted for 3 hours in total, so the service charge should have been 6000 yen.
The hourly wage for this part-time job is two thousand yen. Himeno’s payment is supposed to be 6000 yen, but she handed me a 10000 yen bill and asked for no change in return. Surely this can’t be true. I want to make as much money as possible, yet I can’t help but feel hesitant among younger people like Himeno.
However, this is a part-time job that requires me to act as a ‘part-time boyfriend.’ as Yuya Yuki had said.
“I’ve heard you can get paid extra depending on the client, in the form of money and gifts. The 4000 yen this time was additional money,…thank you.”(Ryoma)
“Don’t be shy. I’m a student, but I’m working. This is my way of thanking you for entertaining me. (Himeno)
“Yeah, I believe you, don’t I? Are you taking it easy?”(Ryoma)
“Well, thanks for the gift, Himeno. I’ll take your word for it.”(Ryoma)
Ryoma didn’t realize it, but his astonishment at being given more money than usual had prompted him to revert to his dating tone. He lowered his head and accepted the 10,000 yen from Himeno’s hand.
“Shiba, it’s time for me to go home.”(Himeno)
“Are you sure you don’t need a ride?”(Ryoma)
“I’m fine. I already paid for one.”(Himeno)
Seeing Himeno standing up from the bench, Ryoma also stood up.
It was finally time to say goodbye.
“Well then, have a safe trip home, Himeno.”(Ryoma)
“You too, Shiba. Goodbye!”(Himeno)
Himeno waved her hand while smiling as she left the park. Ryoma’s work switch turned off the moment Himeno’s silhouette was out of his sight.
“Ha~……. I’m so tired…….”(Ryoma)
Ryoma slumped on the bench, gazing up at the starry night sky as he was breathing deeply with exhaustion. He slackly extended his legs out, vividly displaying his exhaustion.
“It’s not easy making money after all…….”(Ryoma)
When I was on a date, I faked my tone and attitude. All this time, I had been hiding my true nature, looking for topics of conversation, taking care of myself, and behaving in a way that made me seem like a worthy representative.
“Oh, I’m exhausted…….”(Ryoma)
It was true that he had enjoyed the experience, but Ryoma was more than a little overwhelmed by the physical and mental toll it had taken on him.